The Charlotte News

Wednsday, May 5, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that at the Geneva peace conference, according to Western sources, the Communists might favor the creation of a coalition government in Indo-China rather than partition to achieve peace in the war there between the French Union forces and the Vietminh guerrillas. No high-level conversations between East and West had been held yet on the form of the settlement, according to the sources, but an impression of the Communist position had been obtained from other contacts. Presently, there was a two-day recess in the conference. Western diplomats were reported ready to break off the Korean phase of the conference once they were certain that the Communists would not modify their opposition to holding elections supervised by the U.N. to unify the country.

From Hanoi, it was reported that Vietminh troops had dug tunnels and trenches during a pouring rain this date, seeking to penetrate the barricades of the French fortress at Dien Bien Phu, to which the Vietminh were already within hand-grenade throwing range, about 40 yards. The French estimated that the Vietminh were still 600 yards from the command post at the heart of the fortress, but the Vietminh had estimated the distance to be about 400 yards. The French high command reported that "relative calm" had prevailed the previous night following a savage struggle the previous day, resulting in the fall of a western strong point, enabling the rebels to move closer to the heart of the fortress. The French sought to retake the western strong point, until commanding General Christian de Castries called off the attack when it became evident he could not push the men further for being outnumbered ten to one by the Vietminh. A French spokesman stated the belief that the rebels would launch their next big push sometime this date. Since the previous Saturday, the Vietminh had taken four strong points and part of a fifth from the French as they continued to assault in human waves of troops hurled against the barbed wire barricades surrounding the underground and entrenched fortress, shouting "long live Ho Chi Minh" and "death to the French". The French counter-charged with bayonets but were outnumbered. The fortress was now split into two sections, the command center and the southern outpost, the artillery of the latter having served as a major protection for the central portion of the fortress. The rebels had succeeded in seizing several gun emplacements around the southern outpost during the weekend attack but had not been able to reduce its damaging firepower.

The President expressed this date at a press conference unqualified support of Secretary of State Dulles in his efforts to form a united front against Communism in Southeast Asia, indicating that progress had been made and would continue in that respect as the interested countries were considering "the indispensable concept of collective security". He also said that the U.S. had suffered a loss of international prestige as a result of the Army-McCarthy hearings, but expressed full confidence in Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens in his continued ability to administer the Army's business. He clarified his statement of the previous week that he hoped for a quick conclusion to the hearings by indicating that he meant there should be effective answers on the main issues of the dispute and participation by its principals. He hoped that there would be advantages derived from the hearings to offset the loss of international prestige and injury to national self-respect which they had also generated.

In the tenth day of the hearings before the Senate Investigations subcommittee regarding the dispute between the Army and Senator McCarthy, Army special counsel Joseph Welch said that a letter introduced the previous day by Senator McCarthy, purported to be from FBI director J. Edgar Hoover to the Army on January 26, 1951, was "a perfect phony" and "a carbon copy of precisely nothing". Senator McCarthy retorted that the substance of the letter was essentially the same as warnings which the FBI had provided the Army regarding security risks and radar secrets in a longer unsigned memorandum, a matter not disputed by Robert Collier, member of the special counsel staff for the subcommittee, who had checked on the authenticity of the document after the Senator had introduced it late the previous day. He testified that he had taken the document to Mr. Hoover and was told by him that the letter was not a carbon copy of any communication prepared or sent by the FBI to the addressee, Maj. General A. R. Bolling, then intelligence chief of the Army, on the indicated date or on any other date, as Senator McCarthy and Roy Cohn, normally chief counsel for the subcommittee, had claimed when the letter was introduced the previous day. Mr. Collier, however, testified that Mr. Hoover had told him that there was within the FBI files a 15-page interdepartmental memorandum, written in a different form and with no signature. The Senator contended that the three-page letter in question contained verbatim quotes from that 15-page memo and that the three-page letter included the notation that certain security information had been omitted. Senator McCarthy contended that the Army, during the Truman Administration and continuing in the Eisenhower Administration under the direction of Secretary Stevens, had ignored warnings until the subcommittee had begun investigation of the alleged subversion at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey, an important radar research facility. When the letter had originally been introduced the previous day, Mr. Welch had indicated that the Senator's possession of the letter, marked "Personal and Confidential", appeared improper and perhaps illegal. Senator John McClellan of Arkansas raised the point as to whether someone had violated the law in producing the letter, and those questions had been left hanging until this date's morning session.

During the afternoon session, Mr. Collier resumed his testimony, followed by Senator McCarthy's testimony, limited to the subject of the disputed letter, stating that he obtained it from an unnamed, confidential source in Army intelligence sometime between April and June, 1953, not aware until the previous night that it had been condensed from the longer memo, also stating that the letter provided the names of the people the Senator claimed were working at the Fort Monmouth radar laboratory and were members of the spy ring of convicted and executed atomic spy Julius Rosenberg. Afterward, Secretary Stevens resumed his testimony, having testified on each of the ten days of the hearings, though interrupted by other witnesses to testify on ancillary matters several times.

New Hampshire Governor Hugh Gregg, a Republican, urged the President to end the "degenerating nature" of the hearings, stating that the Republican Party was losing prestige and honor because of the "prolonged and ineffectual" hearings in which Senator McCarthy and Secretary Stevens were playing the leading roles. He raised his objection in the form of a telegram to the President. The President cannot do anything about it, lest he wind up impeached for attempting to obstruct justice, as a couple of his successors did. You best continue to watch and weep and speak out loudly next time whenever a demagogue in your party first begins to gain traction with elements of the public.

The President this date went to Burning Tree Club in Maryland for a round of golf, departing the White House shortly after noon.

Senator John Sparkman, the 1952 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, easily won the Democratic primary in Alabama against Congressman Laurie Battle, who raised charges that the Senator had signed onto the Democratic platform favoring civil rights legislation and other liberal causes by running with Adlai Stevenson. Also in Alabama, former Governor James Folsom won the Democratic primary in the gubernatorial race, moving close to obtaining a majority and avoiding a runoff. In Ohio, Representative George Bender won the Republican Senate primary over Ohio House Speaker William Saxbe—future Attorney General under President Nixon, following the infamous "Saturday night massacre" of October, 1973, in which, after two successive Attorneys General resigned for refusal to fire special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox, the latter was finally fired by acting Attorney General Robert Bork. Mr. Bender would contest in the general special election incumbent interim Democratic Senator Thomas Burke, appointed by Governor Frank Lausche to succeed the late Republican Senator Robert Taft, who had died the previous July. The term still had two years remaining. Veteran Congressman Robert Crosser of Ohio, 79, who had been in the House since 1913, save for four years, lost the Republican primary to a former Cleveland judge, Charles Vanik. Otherwise, incumbents appeared to be winning all of their primary contests in Indiana, Florida and New Mexico.

In Buenos Aires, a Paraguayan radio broadcast was received which said that a cavalry division had revolted against the Government of Paraguay, and that other troops and police had rallied to the defense of the Government. Other advices which had reached Buenos Aires said that Asuncion was experiencing rioting and that the Government had declared a state of siege throughout the nation.

New earthquakes hit Greece in its central province of Thessaly, still recovering from earthquakes which had occurred the previous Friday killing 24 persons and causing an estimated ten million dollars in damage. Press reports indicated that the latest tremors had destroyed a village near Sofadhes, which had borne the brunt of the previous Friday's quakes.

In Fletcher, N.C., a lone bandit wearing bandages over his face robbed a branch of the State Trust Co. of Hendersonville this date, getting away with between $10,000 and $12,000, escaping in either a green or blue coupe, prompting a statewide radio alert. If you see a green or blue coupe driven by a man with bandages over his face, be sure to call the local police or the FBI.

Betty Boyer, in her weekly "Grocery News" column, tells of table napkins with a guarantee of purity, Chinese foods which the whole family will really like, baking biscuits the old fashioned way through "ready-to-bake" biscuits, and the ability to save a dime on one of the best margarines you have ever eaten. It prompts the teleological question whether one really eats margarine or just consumes it after it is melted or melded with some other dish. In any event, remember, kids, the sound advice of Mr. Wizard regarding a well-balanced breakfast, including bread and butter, not margarine, pure butter. Ms. Boyer is steering you wrong.

On the editorial page, "Committee Trapped by Its Own Rules" finds that the Army-McCarthy hearings had spent a good deal of time during the previous few days seeking a way to bring the "sorry spectacle" to an end, as the hearings were obscuring more urgent matters of business, including the Geneva peace conference and the Eisenhower legislative program, were harming the reputation of the Senate, as the subcommittee was unable to separate the wheat from the chaff in the controversy, and did not help the Republican Party in a midterm election year. The rules were so loose that the hearings might continue for weeks or even months.

While it now appeared to some of the subcommittee members that the decision to hold the hearings had been a mistake, it would only now compound the error to close off the hearings without completing the full testimony. Senator John McClellan of Arkansas had said the previous day that all principals to the controversy should be heard under oath, that the controversy concerned more than just the special treatment of a private in the Army, that the charges and counter-charges went to the integrity of the administration of the Army and the integrity of the subcommittee, that the charges could not simply be swept aside therefore if the subcommittee was to do its duty.

The piece indicates that the subcommittee members should have known when they adopted the rules that Senator McCarthy would take every opportunity to make speeches under the guise of "points of order" and thereby drag in extraneous subject matter and create diversionary incidents in an effort "to halt the downward spiral of his prestige and popularity." Having made their bed, they had to lie in it, "uncomfortable though it may be."

"Joint Planning Is Logical Next Step" indicates that funds for a professional planning staff had been promised by both the City and County governments and that the long-dormant proposal for a joint City-County planning board was therefore now possible. While such a board would not have jurisdiction over exclusively City planning functions or County planning functions, it would make for more efficient planning actions for the entire county as it was growing. It thus urges formation of the joint board, as Forsyth County, for instance, already had such a board.

"Yes, This Trip Is Necessary" indicates that it was necessary to register in advance the following Saturday for the May 18 vote on the bond to collect two cents of additional property tax revenue for the purpose of providing additional support for the two community colleges in Charlotte, and urges voters to register and to vote in that election, despite the fact that they would also have a May 29 statewide primary and an additional runoff primary four weeks later in which to vote.

While there were too many trips to the polls required, suggesting that election plans should be smoothed out to enable one primary vote, the conscientious voter should not be deterred from exercising their civic duty.

"Unlicensed Drivers Must Be Punished" tells of local judges routinely giving nominal fines for excessive speed, failure to stop at red lights, failure to heed police officers, reckless driving, and especially for driving without a license while committing any of those offenses. The law provided for penalties ranging from $25 to six months in jail for driving without a license and for a $200 fine to two years in jail for driving after revocation of a license, but because of the nominal fines being routinely meted out, there was no deterrence to the unlicensed drivers against getting behind the wheel again. It urges stiffer sentences.

A piece from the Baltimore Evening Sun, titled "Get a Mouthful Today", indicates that a Jamaican company had ordered from Maryland two million pebbles, preferably "historic pebbles", for some commercial enterprise which was not designated. It imagines that the pebbles would be for the purpose of sale to aspiring politicians who, like Demosthenes, the Athenian orator, would load the pebbles in their mouths and run along the seashore orating, to improve their public speaking ability. It assumes that the desire for Maryland historic pebbles was the result of it being the season when every politician wrapped the flag about themselves and went out to denounce opponents in the name of home and motherhood, and that pebbles taken from Fort McHenry, birthplace of "The Star-Spangle Banner", or from the "Free State" or from the Annapolis lawn, might be imbued somehow with additional patriotism.

It suggests, however, that knowing politicians, they would bobble the matter and scramble their lines, trying to quote the great American patriot, "Patrick McHenry", but that the "entrepreneurs of pasteurized political pebbles can hardly be blamed for that."

The Sanford Herald, in an editorial, tells of a pack of dogs in the neighborhood creating havoc at night, being awakened early in the morning by the sound of young voices, which, upon inquiry, told of catching their dog which had joined the pack of wild dogs. One of the two boys began beating the dog, causing the writer to ask whether he should do that, as he continued to wallop the dog, saying it was necessary to keep it from wandering away with the wild dogs. The piece resigns itself to the notion that for at least the ensuing several hours, there would be one less dog in the pack which had caused such genuine distress to the neighborhood, but was pretty certain that it had seen a couple of new mongrels joining the pack the previous evening.

Drew Pearson indicates that the most interesting feature of the St. Lawrence Seaway bill, coming before the House this date, was the backstage reason why, after 25 years of haggling, it was on the verge finally of being passed, that two of the President's most potent friends, one of whom was in the Cabinet, Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey, wanted it passed because they represented big steel and the iron ore of the future had to come from Labrador, not Minnesota. Another reason for its likely passage was that the present proposed project was not that which President Hoover had originally proposed, under which ocean-going vessels could proceed all the way to Duluth, the present bill allowing for passage only to Lake Erie, far enough to obtain the Labrador ore needed for Buffalo, Cleveland and Youngstown, as going further west did not interest the steel companies.

He indicates that the lobbying records showed that Mr. Humphrey and one of the President's closest friends, James Black, had put the Seaway proposal across, Mr. Black receiving more than $100,000 per year to act as the Washington representive of Republic Steel and Secretary Humphrey being head of the giant Hanna holding company and National Steel, Hollinger Steel and closely associated with Wheeling Steel, the Secretary having been credited with being the first to foresee that Minnesota's once rich ore deposits were being depleted and that American steel companies would have to begin importation of the ore from Labrador, prompting his companies to purchase large deposits of the latter ore. The lobbying records showed that the Hanna Co., along with five steel groups, had paid $25,000 in lobbying fees during the first quarter of 1954 and $200,000 to lobbyists since 1949. It was why some of the lower Mississippi and New England opponents of the Seaway project were considering conducting a probe of Secretary Humphrey, on the ground that he had not sold his stock in the Hanna Co. before taking his position.

Mr. Pearson notes that the column had long believed that Presidents Hoover, Roosevelt and Truman were correct in asserting that the project was for the general good of the entire country, but explains that the column had a duty to investigate lobbying activities and place them in their true light.

Doris Fleeson, in Evansville, Ind., examines public opinion in that state regarding the Army-McCarthy hearings and the "Indochina fiasco", the hearings "keeping a growing number of housewives away from the washing machine and glued to the magic lantern of TV", but finding that in Indiana vast numbers of people were not as perturbed and excited as in Washington, either with regard to Senator McCarthy as a "Red-hunter or Schine-defender" or over the war in Indo-China. People would indicate that the Senator still had his followers who were fanatical and devoted, while there was a group also of those who opposed him. The great majority, however, were in the middle, asking why so much time was being spent on an inquiry into Private G. David Schine's Army career.

At a large party, she found only one defender of the Senator, a situation which would not have been encountered during 1952. Republicans perceived that the hearings were not doing the party any good, as the issue pitted one Republican, the Senator, against another, Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens.

Regarding Indo-China, people questioned why the Vice-President had spoken to the association of editors as he did in April, stating that the U.S. would send troops to Indo-China if the French were to withdraw, and that in that event, he would support such action. The country was not ready for anything so drastic and the present withdrawal of Secretary of State Dulles from the Geneva conference was necessary to accommodate Congressional mail running decisively against any such intervention. But despite the fact that there were question marks surrounding the Vice-President and Secretary Dulles, the President continued to live a charmed existence with the public, being given the benefit of every doubt, his leadership apparently remaining unblemished, even though not quite as many people held the same warm, uncritical admiration which they had for him during the 1952 campaign, as even in Indiana, there was an admission that he suffered from too much build-up.

She concludes that Congress would, as a result, get the blame in the midterm elections for the perception that not much work was getting done in Congress because of the distractions. People would vote based on local conditions and that would do little to help the Eisenhower program be passed. While Senate Majority Leader William Knowland denied that the hearings were impeding the progress of the President's program, it defied the public impression. She finds that the strategy of Attorney General Herbert Brownell for the midterm elections to raise the specter of the late Harry Dexter White, former Treasury Department employee who had been implicated in 1948 by HUAC as a former Communist, along with similar such "shows on the road", would be successful only with partisan Republicans and would likely become a casualty of the present general boredom.

James Marlow indicates that for the first time since the Republicans had taken control of the Government at the start of 1953, Senator McCarthy was pinned down to the hearings such that he could not wander around making headlines by asserting Communists in one department or the other of the Government. He had repeatedly complained about the hearings interfering with his more important work of hunting Communists. He continued to obtain headlines, but of the wrong type, and was having to share the floor every day with others.

It was questionable whether the hearings could do the Republican Party any good in the midterm elections, as it was strictly a Republican fight in which someone was obviously lying. The four Republican members of the Senate Investigations subcommittee had made it plain the previous day that they wanted to bring the hearings to a speedy end, as did Senator McCarthy, but only on his terms, at which the Administration had balked. Meanwhile, the three Democratic members wanted to obtain the full testimony, likely causing the hearings to continue for weeks. The Senator had made it plain before the hearings started that he would attack the Administration, and would continue to do so as soon as the hearings were completed. He claimed it was part of his campaign to root out Communists from the executive branch, and before the hearings were completed, he might be able to make Secretary Stevens and the Army appear as dolts, but, by the same token, the Army might make the Senator look pretty bad. Regardless of the outcome, the Senator was in a fight and as long as he continued in it, he would not have much time for anything else.

A letter writer tells of ham radio operators providing a great service for the community, relates of his mother having been lonely on the Saturday before Easter, going to the mailbox and finding a postcard from Japan wishing her the best on Easter from her other son, with a notation on it that the radiogram had been delivered via a ham operator in Charlotte for free. He pays tribute to the ham operator, a 16-year old boy, and indicates that he was certain there were others who provided similar service.

A letter from the correspondence secretary of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Charlotte expresses appreciation from the women of the church for the coverage in the newspaper provided the annual meeting of the Episcopal Women's Auxiliary, Diocese of North Carolina.

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